By: Gerard Sarnat
Kafka Joylessly Metamorphed
“Oy, you know the very best predictor of your future is the past,”
pontificated the pachyderm matriarch gazing at her trunk in a pond.
Hugely wrong, thunk this undulating pollywog…
Back when before elephant in the room’s that my parents got pithed,
each sunnily remembered they’d merchandised before, top-notch
factory products tick-tock, hardnosed Jews —
one of each sex, two years apart – no Irish Crème twin woolies here.
Matched set shipped off to the finest schools, been there, done that.
“Third kid would be like an extra leg or tail —
we won’t manufacture no more. Oversized inventory, remote intrusions
aren’t in our catalogue’s biz plan.” So soon the acerbic shopkeepers
treated grandkids like toadies pinned then jolted in the lab.
Warts frozen from memory as Mom and Pops grew old, bit of a mess,
thermostats’ cold-bloodedness reset on the boil, once stoic
amphibians now zapped gigglesilly —
dementia’s deceptions happily unpatterned, Ma and Pa heap volts
on warmly hatched tadpole larvae, leapfrogging indifference
to love love love both of their doting great-grandsons.
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
In my life– I love you more
— Lennon/McCartney, “In My Life” from Rubber Soul
February Presidents’ Day long weekend doldrums,
stormy schedule with resident creek running,
one toddler grandson ex-plains/ claims, “Sooo many rains!”
while new chartreuse boot soles tinkle lightning bolts every second they hit
mud during splash contests with his year-older first cousin chum who warns
about poison oak when three of us pick and munch miner’s lettuce.
Two-year-old’s yellow slicker unzipped (“Self!), by the time my Wellingtons
drag inside, drenched Liav insists, “Sooo heavy, carry you uppy”
(I can barely) as usual to downstairs playroom’s once magical novelties
but now grown stale compared to old standbys I remember from our own kids’
“real” work that in a pinch is what always grabbed them.
Stripped naked boychicks wash dry fold a load of their dirty laundry before snacks
consisting of hors d’oeuvres made from pistachios we shucked, dates I depitted,
clementines everybody segmented; omelets each prepares by breaking beating free range
organic eggs (shell bits included) — though just Coachie cooked plus added cheese
during which interval almost-brothers sat on toy chairs not too near hot stovetops to watch.
Oy… it’s only 845AM, another 8 1/4 hours to go until daughter-boss with newborn twin boys strapped deep in Lexus SUV tank car-seats drives by to inspect, probably upset because she along with me do double duty since her Jerusalemite husband, himself a scion of holocaust survivors spends this holiday with Hebrew-speaking buddies on ski slopes foreign to Israel:
he might not return ‘til July if snow packs hold or able to avoid papers served suing for divorce.
Given all electronic digital media including vid games’re strictly verboten [except family photos]
I get out flour, salt, cream of tartar, veggie oil non-toxic food coloring; voila, there’s homemade Play Doh that along with cookie cutters and some freak shows of insanely gender fluid plastic dwarves hopefully will occupy our gang until naps after which we have an afternoon plan to float bark boats holding stick soldiers in what with a little luck by then’re more likely forest lakes.
Jesus H. Christ Out On Highway 61
“…When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees…”
Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan, “Visions Of Johanna”
from the Blonde On Blond album, 1966
Even though everybody knows H stands for Hebrew
we star-crossed Madison Avenue marketing masterminds
really blew our biggest Jewish account ever
coming up with the Star of David’s
too complex two inverted triangle graphics, while gentile
boosters sent a simple cross up Christmas Tree Lane’s
flagpole along with concocting that loving straight-shooter
Jesus whose icon even got away with hippy long hair
whereas Zimmerman’s mishigas g-d warned Abe,
“The next time you see me comin’, you better run”
which combined with love-hate relationships
with a dark-haired only sib named Joan, plus requesting my kids
to play Bobby’s music as I am lowered
into the ground, leads this usually not musically
oriented physician to feel quite profoundly affected.
Earth Mother’s Underbrush Trail Sunday Trial Run?
I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still
Da do ron-ron-ron, da do ron-ron
— The Crystals
On hushed occasion of my wife’s 72nd birthday, as usual
I raise the 7 sets of bedroom blinds by their individual
cords to let virginal forest dawn come into our cabin
that by next week at this very moment will remain
dark because Daylight Savings Time has finally
— even somewhat gratefully — gone into effect.
After 50-odd years together, after oohing
ahhing Gerry’s card and hand-picked flowers,
she says she just wants normal morning coffee
then jog toward our woody path’s end. But we know
there is an unstated expectation at least one or more of
her family’s grand/ kids should eventually show up today.
When these multi-mealed plus many-caked celebrations
are done, all others left for home, dusk on near horizon,
life’s only partner cuddles closer to me as each of us
enjoys a return of quiet before black descends with
husband’s job again to tend to shades which pulled
down oy begin to feel clearly like flags at half-mast.
Mid-Septuagenarian’s Subterranean Null Explorations
Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
— from Subterranean Homesick Blues, Bob Dylan
Nada more about meditation, drugs, sex or family
but rather now perhaps err toward the opposite
as testosterone levels wind down – er, aha
how just possibly Gerry finds himself
ever sooo very gradually beginning
that inevitable path with another
fleeting earth father returned,
gathered right back in by
NOT SO COMIC BOOKS  Feel free to use subsection/s.
i. CrowdSourced Swift Boating?
More like Jonathan’s Gulliver
plus Guccifer 2.0’s Russian gang
than Vietnam vet John Kerry’s
undermined 2004 Presidential
we tiny Lilliputians’
now seizing some momentum
— death by a thousand cuts will
eventually bring down then sink
many of those Trump syndicates.
ii. Hyenas Scavenge Hog Endgame?
Twilight of our time left,
after spending most days
separate at individual tasks
I and my life partner come
together toward dusk to occupy
many nights having pure fun
which used to consist more
doing Netflix, Hulu or Amazon
primarily fiction but recently
we have taken to recording news,
MSNBC from noon straight
through to Brian Williams sign-off
along with PBS, CNN, VICE
plus Fox smatterings just to be sure
zipping their A blocks, nothing
significant — perhaps footage of toxic
insect swarms straight from Moscow
digesting Trump Tower cable innards
— has been missed since ain’t no way
auteurs short of Tolstoy and Pynchon
can match what now’s considered reality.
Modern-day Ms. Dickinson’s 5AM Diary Entry
– Sleepless Starting Summer Not In Seattle
A blue-blooded rock-ribbed Amherstian —
Confined to home — I do seem quite adverse
To going out much — except by poem or coffin.
Often one niece might bring me her new baby
— Liav’s quarter Turkish + quarter Iraqi — post
Hebrew diaspora she equates it to be half Israeli.
Then Sis’s 2nd girl — along with both boys — will
Fly in a blue metal bird – from what maybe were
Mexican Possessions when Emily was born in 1830.
After Memorial Day holidays — recognitions of fallen
U.S. soldiers which once were thought to have begun
as markers decorating graves during our unCivil War —
Around about the time that Woman in White became
Reclusive – whispering to visitors from the other side
Of a hewn oak door – started getting carted to doctors.
If these innards & outards score A-OK, you ladies I grew
Up near but haven’t seen since turning 30 — are slotted to
Spend July 4th convening here within my garden cottage.
Gerard Sarnat is a physician who’s built and staffed homeless and prison clinics as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. He won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is published in academic-related journals including Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Arkansas, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Slippery Rock, Appalachian State and the University of Edinburgh. Gerry’s writing has also appeared widely including recently in such U.S. outlets as Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Blue Mountain Review, Danse Macabre, Canary Eco, Fiction Southeast, Military Experience and the Arts, Poets And War, Cliterature, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine,